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tv   CNN Special Report  CNN  December 20, 2016 6:00pm-7:01pm PST

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good evening again. topping the hour, the trablg unfolding in mexico after the worst thing possible happens, really in the worst place imageable. explosions rocking a fireworks market north of mexico city.
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>> just stunning images there. when these explosions finally did stop, but it took such a long time, dozens of people were dead or injured. this is new video from twitter showing what it looks like on the ground there. you can see the devastation. at least 29 people were killed and it does seem that number could rise. cnn's ed lavendera monitoring developments for us. he joins us now with the very latest. ed, what are you learning? >> well, this is a staggering scene that rescue crews are still trying to work through and sift through to find if there is anymore people who have been wounded or killed in this series of explosions. as you mentioned, at least 29 dead. that death toll could continue to rise, we're told by
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government officials there north of mexico city, that there were more than 70 injured. we're also told by the governor of that state, where this town is, that three young children will be floub to a hospital in texas to reserve -- to receive treatments for their burns. so you can imagine that the burn injuries will be significant for many of victims who were trying to survive these explosions here tonight. but this isn't the first time this actually has happened in this open air mark. it's basically known as the fireworks capital of mexico. the pyrotechnic industry in this town is a huge event. and a huge industry for this small town. and it is a problem that happened back in 2005. no one was killed in that series of explosions, but it did cause a great deal of damage is as well as injuries back in 2005. the images the from the ground, john, really leaving tonight the vivid images of the scorched fireworks stands. you can imagine how frightening and horrific this must have been
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for people trapped inside all of this area, as these series of explosions went on uncontrollably. >> help us understand the market itself there. as you said, there's been an incident before back in 2005. what is this, an open air market with stall after stall, stand after stand, selling fireworks? it looks like a huge place. >> right, just so people understand, this is a huge, elaborate firework industry that exists here in this town. this is a part of the culture and the mystique for this town. every march, they hold a national pyrotechnic festival. tens of thousands of people show up to this area to come see the elaborate firework displays and systems that are built. so this is very common, especially this time of year, as you head into the festive christmas season, as well as new year's celebrations, as well. coming to this open air market would be something that would be extremely popular. that's why you see so many people there in the video images we're seeing of these
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explosions. >> ed lavendera, the death toll stands at 29. those numbers did rise over the course of the evening, so we're watching that closely. and we keep getting new video in as well as some eyewitness accounts. we'll stay on this throughout the night. we have more breaking news now. the hunt for whoever drove the heavily loaded truck through a berlin christmas market. this time last night, police had a man in custody. what they did not have, they say, was the evidence the to keep him. joining us again tonight from berlin, cnn's fred rick pleitgen, fred, what's the latest on the investigation? >> well, the police is now essentially saying that that man that they had in custody was essentially exonerated. they say what they did is they went into the cab of that truck that plowed through that christmas market, john, and they say the forensics they found there, all the evidence, including dna and fingerprints, as well, none of it matched the suspect they had in custody. so at this point in time, the presumption from the berlin police department is that whoever was driving that truck is still at large and is
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probably still also armed. because keep in mind, there was a second person who was found dead on the passenger seed with gunshot wounds, but never a weapon recovered by the authority. so they still think there is grave danger of someone still running around, obviously, someone who is very dangerous. now, isis has come out and claimed responsibility for all of this, saying they were the ones who inspired whoever did this. they say they put out a call earlier this year to attack places like this, using vehicles or using any means possible, and so therefore, they believe that they were the ones who sparked all of this. they didn't offer up any evidence to back all of this up. essentially, for the berlin police department, what they're trying to figure out right now is two things, john. first of all, who was behind this? second of all, how many people were possibly behind this. was this someone acting alone or was this a larger group that possibly had bigger logistical support, as well, considering the fact that they hijacked this truck and then drove it into there. there are some who believe that there would be some that would be very hard to do that, on their own, especially, since, of
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course, there's a gun involved, as well, and someone to acquire such a weapon. >> given that there is still a killer on the loose right now, what are authorities telling people? are people still out on the streets at other markets. >> reporter: that's actually one of the things that's been quite sprigds for us, being here. there are a lot of people who came out, even after the police put out that notice, that most probably they have the wrong person, and that the actual person behind this was still at large. there were still a lot of people who were actually out. there were a lot of people coming to that market and a lot of people out in the rest of br lynn. in the rest of berlin, you hardly felt that anything had changed. there were some christmas markets that were closed. and even now, i was driving out on the streets here just a couple of minutes ago, you don't see that much of a police presence. if you'll recall the attacks at "charlie hebdo" in paris or the paris attacks in november of 2015, there was a lot of police presence and a lot of raids going on. we haven't seen any of that here just yet. what the police is saying, it's calling on people to be vigilant and saying if you do see anything suspicious, then
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certainly call the police rather than trying to act on your own, because, obviously, the person who drove that truck through that christmas market is someone who is very, very dangerous. >> a lack of activity may show they have simply no leads at this moment. frederik pleitgen, thanks so much. back with the panel, paul cruicksha cruickshank and michael bergen. your sources do tell you they're essentially back to square one? >> that appears to be the case. that there's no big leads right now. you're not seeing raids, for example, across germany, which would perhaps signify some progress in the investigation. so they're going to have to rely on the forensics from the cab of the truck. they're going to have to match that up perhaps with some databases. of course, it may not be ton those databases. they've also asked the public to share any video that they shot from around the scene of the crime, during the scene of the crime, perhaps they can get some
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visuals on the attacker that way. if they have managed to get that so far, they have not shared that with the public. they have not asked the public to sort of crowd source the investigation in that kind of way, like we saw with the boston investigation. >> notable, that they haven't done it yet, but it could be, as you said, they simply have no evidence at this point to go on. peter, if the attacker put any forethought into an escape plan, or if he had any help, he could be really far away right now. there's a train station nearby. you know, there are open borders. this person could be in any number of countries, let alone any place in germany at this point. >> yeah, that's correct. so, you know, we don't know the motivation of this guy. we don't know who this person is. it's possible the germans, you know, have something that they're keeping to themselves. we saw in the case of boston that it took, you know, at least 48 hours to kind of go through all the footage to find the two
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suspects who were not known to the police and who, you know, were essentially identified by putting their pictures out in public. so, let's see. and of course, if we look at the boston marathon as a sort of interesting analog, of course, the two perpetrators, the tsarnaev brothers, didn't stop with just the attack on the marathon. they also killed a police officer at m.i.t. in the process of their escape. so it will be, i think, rash to presume that whoever has done this isn't planning some other kind of incident, somewhere. >> it's good to council sosel s patience. in boston, it took days, and in france, it took months. isis claimed a connection to this attack. it said that the person who did it was a soldier of the islamic state. so how do we know that that claim is authentic?
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>> well, we don't. we'll probably know when he turns up dead, as a corpse, being shot by german police or by some other european security force. or if he's captured alive. the one thing that's giving me a little bit of pause here is, if you are an isis-inspired terrorist, you are meant to declare your allegiance to abu bakr al baghdadi, a fealty, loyalty to isis. we saw that in the orlando attacks with the 911 call. we saw that in the san bernardino attackers, based on a social media commentary that the wife had put out. we don't see anything like that yet. we don't know who this assailant is or if it's multiple people. and i keep coming back to this idea that maybe there's a getaway plan, and before he is in safe ground and outside of perhaps germany or even europe, could go back to the middle east if he's from middle east, then he will declare his allegiance. >> you know, paul, german officials, german intelligence, german authority have said on alert. they've been on the lookout for this type of event for a long,
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long time right now. give me a window into frankly how good they are. how strong their investigative services are and whether or not they simply drop the ball here with the man they had in custody for 24 hours. >> well, you have to say that there has not been a single fatal islamist terrorist attack in germany since 9/11. so, that's just a fact and so they've had quite a lot of success in breaking up plots over the last decade and a half. but i'm told by german officials that they are really overstretched right now, because of the scale of this threat that they're of. more than 800 people who travelled from germany to syria and iraq, about a third of them have come back. they're dealing with thousands of radical extremists on jogerm soil. and the biggest concern of all is the fact that you've had a million refugees come into germany. and among them, many young sunni
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men who are dislocated and struggling to integrate in germany. and there's real worry that extremists already present in germany are going to radicalize some of those people, as well as worried that isis are trying to infiltrate operatives into germany, into europe through the refugee flows. in fact, back in september, there were three isis operatives who were arrested in holstein in northern germany who were part of the same network as the paris attackers, answering and in touch with the same people in syria. they were part of the isis external wing there. one other big concern is the fact that with these encrypted apps, they're able to communicate fairly securely with operatives or sympathizers in germany and to try to encourage them to launch attacks. so lots of challenges for investigators in germany, despite the fact that we haven't seen a fatal islamist terrorist attack since 9/11. >> and the encrypted acts, i
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know that has been a concern of yours over the last several days. the man they did have in custody was believed to have been a refugee from either pakistan or afghanistan, which did lead to extreme politicization in just the last 24 hours. however, that doesn't appear to be the man behind it. so we don't know if the person who did this was involved with the inflow of refugees inside germany. peter, i want to ask you, you know, from what you know about radical ideology, does whoever did this, does he want to get away? does he want to go back to syria? or do you think his plan would be to kill more, to lash out while on the run? >> well, i mean, he did get away, so, you know, and i think returning to michael's observation, i agree that, you know, in the cases where, like orlando or san bernardino, the perpetrators very quickly, you know, pledge their allegiance in a public manner on facebook or in a 9/11 call, a 911 call. in this case, he hasn't said
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anything. and so, you know, in the case of the orlando and san bernardino, they were de facto suicide attacks. so this guy hasn't made a pledge of allegiance, has disappeared, didn't seem to intend to commit suicide, at least from the facts that we know now, and that would imply, you know, that he may well conduct another attack. he may eventually commit suicide at the end of this after a series of attacks. >> the manhunt very much underway at this moment. a lot more to talk about. gentleman, thank you very much. next, more on what paul just mentioned, all those immigrants. was europe's mass influx of syrian refugees a factor in the attack on berlin? and later, donald trump's two eldest sons. what exactly is their connection to a fund-raiser that initially appeared to offer access to their father for big money? we're going to speak to "the washington post" writer who's got all the details, that's ahead on "360."
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paul cruickshank brought it up before the break. the role, if any, that immigration from syria may have played in the berlin market attack. this morning, german chancellor angela merkel saying it would be, quote, especially hard to bear if the killer turned out to be one of the nearly 900,000 people whom germany has taken in this year. certainly something to talk about. starting with the big picture now from cnn's tom foreman. tom? >> hi, john, the european commission has very frankly called this an unprecedented
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refugee crisis, with nearly 65 million people pushed out of their homes worldwide. some find ways to stay generally in their regions, but in 2015, more than a million of them made their way to europe. and hundreds of thousands of more have followed this year. we don't even have a total co t count. so where are they coming from? kosovo, afghanistan and iraq with their ongoing conflict, tun rest has produced plenty of refugees. but by far the single biggest source is syria. last year alone, more than 350,000 refugees sought asylum in europe, hoping to escape the brutal civil war raging in their homeland. where are these refugees going? hungary and sweden and italy and france and austria have all taken in thousands, but germany has welcomed more than any other nation by far. at least a half million officially last year or roughly equal to the entire population of sacramento, california, john.
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>> and tom, we know tension has risen in germany as these numbers have mounted. how is this playing out politically there? >> this is producing immense pressure on those public officials, like chancellor angela merkel, who has argued that a continued open door policy needs to stay in place. she says this refugee process is something that they need to continue. but with each terrorist incident, and as you note, we have no idea yet if this was tied to anybody who was an immigrant, but every time something happens, there are people who raise up and they say, wait a minute. are we vetting all of these immigrants adequately? is there any way of knowing where their sympathies lie? and most importantly, no matter how they feel about it, is there any end in sight for this tide of refugees? john? >> tom foreman, key questions. thank you so much. back now with michael weiss and joining us, bobby ghosh. we had a very small taste of it
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here in the united states during the election. the argument over whether the united states or how many syrian refugees and refugees from other c countries the u.s. should accept. and europe, the numbers they have accepted already are exponentially higher. and there's a debate there as well, between what many see as their moral obligation to help and security. >> and germany is where a lot of this debate is taking place right now. angela merkel was the champion last year of the side of europe that says we have to take more of these people in as part of our responsibility, it's part of what we must do, and sort of, this is true to our european values. now she's under tremendous pressure. she has an election coming up next year. she's under tremendous pressure from right-wing forces, even before this attack, who have been saying, we've gone too far, we've got to get these people out of the country. in fact, a few days ago, before this attack took place, she, herself, seemed to be sort of backpeddling just a little bit by suggesting that, okay, we've
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taken these people in, but they're not going to be here forever. we've got to start figuring out how to move them on or send them home. so he's clearly feeling the pressure. and this attack in berlin is going to just exponentially increase the pressure. >> she said, as we just reported, if it turns out to be a refugee that carried out this attack, it would be especially hard to bear. michael, it would be hard to bear for the national psyche and very hard for her to bear politically right now with this election coming up. she could lose power. >> i mean, afd, the alternative for germany, which is this far-right anti-immigrant political party, already said that this is merkel, the 12 people killed so far and the dozens other who were wounded, you have pugita, virulently anti-muslim. and part of isis's intention is to foment the rise of xenophobic -- >> i'm going to get to that in a second. but security, in terms of screening going into these
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european countries like germany, does it compare to what goes on in the united states? >> no, i don't think it does. and in the united states, it is pretty difficult to come here. difficult to come here as a legal immigrant. talk to anybody who tries to come from a stalwart american ally like great britain, for instance. and remember, the paris attack, it was interesting, there were two guys who were going to join the ten-man attack ring. they got interned in cyprus. one was from arapahoe, the other was from pakistan. the pakistani couldn't speak arabic and claimed he was from iraq. that was easy. the other said he was from aleppo, but couldn't find aleppo on a map. >> but otherwise, a lot do get in and can move around freely once you're there. germany has been so welcoming of refugees. you know, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. germany not involved in the fight against isis, at least directly inside syria. so why, then, would isis want to attack germany? >> well, it's not particularly
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to do with germany, as the point michael was making, they want to create, they want to foment this idea of a big war between islam and the west. and germany goes against that narrative by saying, we welcome muslims, we welcome refugees. and that really doesn't work with the isis narrative. they need the narrative to be us against them. and so if they can take down a liberal champion like angela merkel, if they can in so doing, if they can empower the right-wing forces in germany that are anti-muslim, just as we've seen forces like that in -- all over western europe, that would suit them very well. they could go back and say, look, we told you all along, you cannot trust the west, you cannot trust these europeans. they may talk about welcoming you, but in real, they hate you, they hate islam. islam is under threat. your job is to defend islam. and that's part of their
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recruitment. >> right. >> both for money as well as for people. come and protect islam. come and save islam. >> we're seeing the evacuation of aleppo right now happen before our very eyes. you know, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war-torn areas. what happens if countries do shut down and do close their borders? what happens to the innocent people? >> they suffer and die, or they go elsewhere in syria, which is going to become a province. which is the russians and iranians want to turn into a kill box. that is a province that is governed largely by groups including the al qaeda franchise. so bundling all of these civilians in there just means annihilating a jihadi enterprise. i mentioned last night, aleppo is going to be a rallying cry, a lightning rod for generations of sunni jihad. the former secretary general of hezbollah came out and said this is essentially another karbala. for a shia to say it's a
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karbala, which is one of the most venerated scenes of tragedy -- yes, because he realizes the blowback will be severe. shia have the minority among the global muslim population, but sunnis will pay a price, too. >> michael weiss, bobby ghosh, a bleak situation playing out right now in realtime thanks so much for being with us. coming up, are these terror attacks the new normal in europe? so says former extremist maui najwes. we'll hear from him, next. hi, we're the hulford quads. (laughter)
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the attacks in germany and elsewhere in europe are the new normal. that's according to a former extremist who is now an activist. he founded the counterextremism think tank and is the author of "radical: my journey out of islamist extremism." i spoke with him shortly before airtime. majid, isis is claiming responsibility for this attack. there is no state department at this point, so it's not exactly clear who did it. but it was isis or even islamic terrorists, this quoub the first major radical islamic terrorist attack inside germany. >> and in that sense, it becomes more relevant if it is isis. what becomes more relevant are the consequences of the attack. and don't forget angela merkel in germany had the famous or infamous, depending on one's perspective, open door policy with syrian refugees, welcoming
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them into europe after the terrible civil war in syria. now, what i think i'm particularly worried about is if this does push out to be either a jihadist attack or more specifically, a refugee or somebody who's used the refugee channels to attack germany, then the negative political consequences of the back of this is considering that merkel is up for re-election next year and considering that at the moment, it looks like one of his biggest competitors are the right-wing anti-muslim, an entire pagita organization and those who put germany first, who are anti-muslim, and they are on the rise. >> german troops, german equipment not involved in anti-isis operations directly inside syria. does that matter to isis, if this was isis, does it matter to them that germany is not necessarily fighting them in syria? >> well, no. and this is an important point for those on the political left to talk about. we often talk about our mistakes and how they compliment the rise
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of jihadist terrorism abroad. and that is a factor, but from the jihadist perspective, that's a factor only for that in it makes other people angry and more susceptible to recruitment. but for the hardened jihadist ideology, that has never been a factor. what do they get out of this in attacking germany? well, across europe right now, we see the division and polarization of society. we see muslims retreating into a form of muslim identairism. muslims saying, we feed an exclusive place just for muslims. and on the right wing, you've got the same with right supremacist identityism. and the more that happens, the more extremist groups can say, we're the only one who speak for you. we represent you. we claim those rights you say you're not getting. that's why isis seeks to divide society. >> one of the things that's been said about isis and isis says itself, they want to eliminate
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the gray zone. take away, basically, the middle ground there. what does that mean? >> the middle ground is this kind of conversation where i won't assume your cultural or religious background, but i'm a british pakistani muslim. i happen to be many other things as well. many other things. but that part of my identity, the fact that i've couched it among many other forms of identity, british, liberal, maybe a father, being comfortable with popularism. and what isis these when they say we want to eliminate the gray zone, they want me to reduce my identity first and foremost, only to being a muslim. and have my life dictated primarily by that identity alone. and that leads to the form of governance that we know as theocra theocracy. likewise, they would want someone like you to reduce your identity to just be saying, white, or whatever so you have a form of governance that just represents you. see, how do they benefit from that? of course, any fascism, any form of extremism, any form of even
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theocracy, for it to survive, it must divide people along those lines. and that's why you see, whether it's the holocaust or the rwanda genocide yo genocide, you always needed that enemy to have a propaganda against, so people who were scared, you build that fear, they flock to you for protection. >> and finally, you know, over the last 24 hours the attack in germany is not only attack. there were other horrific killings all around the world, but especially look what happened inside turkey. you take nose this combination, the assassination of the russian ambassador there, the attack in this christmas market in berlin. what does it say about the state of the world right now? >> well, unfortunately, this is the new normal. and i don't mean to sound pessimistic, but this won't be the last attack in germany nor will it certainly be the at last attack across europe. europe is in dire straits right now. and i think one of the negative consequences as these attacks continue to unfold is europe will become more and more divided. there is a strain, a huge strain, on the project that is
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the european union, and we are going to have to work out a way to deal with this and these sorts of attacks are completely unpredictable. so the animal way is to start to looking at long-term strategies to prevent the further polarization of our societies. which on a long-term basis is the only way we're going to deal with this. >> naturally these terrorist groups keep trying to provoke these divisions. thanks so much for being with us. >> a pleasure. coming up, late new word on a huge explosion in mexico. also, a private reception with the president-elect, a hunting trip with one of his sons. that was reportedly the promise of an invitation to donors willing to spend $500,000 or more for a post-inauguration event. david fahrenthold of "the washington post" just wrote a detailed piece about it all and he joins us next to explain. i'ts your tv, take it with you. with directv and at&t, stream live tv anywhere data-free. join directv today starting at $35/month. no extra monthly fees. ♪
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we have a late update now on that huge and deadly fireworks exploitation north of mexico city. we are just learning that three children hurt in the blast will be taken to a hospital in texas to be treated for what is being described as extensive burns. new video shows what can really only be described as chaos in the ground in the aftermath as people try to get away. but adds you can see, it really be hard to know even where to run. 72 people were injured in that awful, awful, awful accident. at least 29 people have lost their lives. and that death toll did rise
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throughout the evening. so we're keeping a very close eye on that. breaking news as well tonight on the political front. it concerns a planned fund-raiser or an apparently planned fund-raiser that promised a private reception with president-elect donald trump at a hunting or fishing trip with eric trump or donald jr. that reportedly was the offer dangled in front of people willing to spend $500,000 or more the day after the inauguration. tmz got a draft of that invitation. now a spokesperson says the president-elect and he has sons aren't, they're not, involved in planning the event. david farenthold of "the washington post," he wrote about this story just a short time ago and he joins me now. david, so help me understand here were what exactly was initially offered? $500,000 in exchange for what? >> there were two offers. you could $500,000 and get a hunting trip with eric trump or donald jr., or pay $1 million and get a private reception for
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you and 15 guests with the actual president, with donald trump, the day after he was inaugurated. >> to be clear now, the trump transition team are now saying the brothers are not involved in any way? >> that's right. so the people who were organizing this are friends of donald trump jr. and they had gone so far as to incorporate a nonprofit in texas called the opening day foundation to run this event and take the money from it. and donald trump jr. and eric trump are listed in the paperwork as leader of that foundation and were listed as co-chairman or honorary chairman of this event. now we're being told they had nothing to do with it. they had no knowledge of it before and they're not involved. so either this whole thing was done by their friends without their knowledge or we're not getting the foul story. >> the organizers, though, did they say the brothers took part in discussions about the fund-raiser and are or remain honorary chairman of the whole thing. is it possible they're not involved? >> it could be. the bigger takeaway is that trump has really avoided drawing
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any sort of lines between himself and his business, which don and eric are supposed to run, and drawing any lines between himself and his family. and i think trump believes that maybe there's no cost to that. but the cost to it is something that matters even to him. and that is, he's losing control of his own reputation. and so there are apparently third parties out there who are taking advantage of the idea that you can buy the president's time and they're going to try to sell it. and it seems like by the trump family's telling of that, that's what happened here. the trump sons' friends within the out there and sort of used th that idea to try to sell the president's time. >> for a charity they set up, apparently, just very, very recently. so as of now, to be clear, there's no hunting trip or no official meeting with president-elect trump, so whatever was going to happen, if it was going to happen, is not going to happen now? >> what it is, the event is still going on, toby keith is still going to perform, and if you pay $1 million, you get a meeting with a special guest, or
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the hunting trip is with members close to the event. they're not spelling ow is it donald trump and donald trump jr. and eric trump. it could very well be. but they're being cagey about it. any paid $1 million to meet the president and met somebody else, you think that person would be pretty unhappy. but they're not saying it explicitly now. >> and this comes after ivanka trump was on that fund-raising, that auction of a 45-minute private audience with her. there are other things not completely dissimilar that have gone on. >> right. and this is in addition to things like trump continuing to own a stake in his businesses, to own his hotel in washington, d.c., that forbe governments have begun spending foreign money to rent out the rooms and stay in in helps of influencing trump. so we have thought there had been questions from day one about whether trump's businesses were being used as a conduit from other people, other countries, other companies trying influence trump. but now we're seeing the trmp
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family and this thing, whatever it was, with the two sons, they're just literally selling time with the first family or with the president. it's a very direct pay to meet the president. that's something wecht seen before and it's going to be a huge distraction if trump doesn't find some way of cutting himself off. >> you did speak to some watchdog groups about it. what are they saying? >> this is something that obviously there's been situations before where big donors give a lot of money to go to inaugural balls. but to say, if you pay me $1 million, i'll get you time with donald trump. or you pay me $60,000, i'll get you time with ivanka, who is going to be sort of the de facto first lady. that very direct, here's the exact price tag for some portion of the first family member's time, that's what's new and that's what's corrosive. if the idea is to get on the president's agenda, you have to outed by somebody else, that's not the way the president is supposed to cork. >> david farenthold, stay with us.
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back with or panel, kayleigh mcenany, daily caller, matt lewis, and democratic strategist, maria cardona. kayleigh, this confusion speaks to the issue we've been having since the presidential election. the idea that there is no, as of yet, clearly defined firewall between donald trump and his sons and the businesses. >> well, this event isn't happening. to me, this is a lot of nothing to see here. because you have the event holders who are saying one thing and the campaign saying they had nothing to do with this fund-raiser. they are not involved with at all. it is the organizers who conceived of this idea. and i think what we're seeing on the part of the left, there's a desperate effort to try to make donald trump into hillary clinton, the person with ethical issues when it comes to charitable foundations is not donald trump, it is in fact, hillary clinton, and there's a effort to make him into that. >> you're absolutely right. the trump transition team denies that the sons knew anything about it. but david fahrenthold points out, what that means though, if
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they have nothing to do with it, they had friends who thought they could raise some money for this charity using access to the trump kids and the president-elect himself, you know, as a hook. so that in and of itself is interesting. and in and of itself has nothing to do on its face with hillary clinton. and i don't know whether tmz is left, right, or center. i don't know that they have any political affiliation at all. and i know that david fahrenthold was simply just reporting on the facts of what was going on. i haven't heard from the clinton team or any democrat about this story that just broke. matt lewis, half a million dollars is a lot of money. $1 million is a lot of money. does it pass the smell test? >> it's a lot of money. you think the problem with this is the hypocrisy. donald trump ran to drain the swamp, ran against this sort of cronyism. having said that, i would push back a little bit and say, you know, that this is actually standard operating procedure. people give money all the time for access to politicians. when somebody gives money and
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barack obama comes to a fund-raiser, they are paying -- now, maybe they agree with him on the issues, maybe they want to support him or the candidate he's endorsing or maybe they want access to the president. so this is actually, i would say, not abnormal, maybe it's all too normal. >> but it is the swamp, right? >> exactly. >> but it is the swamp that's being drained? >> in this case, i would say the one caveat in addition to that would be, ostensibly, assuming this is even happening or was even part of the deal, this would be for charity. not for a political campaign, not to elect donald trump, but for conservationism. >> and i want to talk about charity in a moment. but david fahrenthold, i want to get your take on the idea of swamp in all of this. >> the charity angle in this is really interesting. because this was originally sort of sold as, it's going to a conservation charity, so it's going to this opening day foundation, the thing that just got started. what we're told today is that's wrong. the opening day foundation is just going to be an arm of something called the boon and
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crock et club. but the boon and crockett club said, we're just considering whether we're participating in this. so there's so far a veneer of charity or an idea that charity benefits here. but we haven't actually figured out if there is a charity that benefits or what it is. so that's an extra sort of level of oddness about this. >> that's interesting, and that's a scenario that needs to be looked at much more. and it does seem there's something chaotic or poorly planned about this, at a minimum that we need to find out more about. maria cardona, you heard about the pushback from kayleigh mcenany talking about the idea of well, isn't this just what the clintons did? if this is for charity, asking for donations for charity so you can be close to the clintons. >> first of all, the clinton foundation is an actual charity that actually does charitable work, that actually saves lives around the world. so first, it was ant charity that was created as a front to then sell access to the
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president. >> a secretary of state outside of -- >> if you want access, you want -- >> and secondly. and secondly, let's just say, okay, the hypocrisy here? that is exactly what donald trump ran against. >> tas proven -- >> that is exactly what donald trump said in terms of draining the swamp. he's filling the swamp. >> after the break, the question is, will we ever hear about how donald trump will separate himselves from his sons, from his business interests, and doesn't this beg for a greater explanation. think about your answer. >> he gets time to think? >> we'll be right back. there's no one i'd rather hit the road with. no one i'd rather have dinner and a movie with.
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we've been talking about a story in the "washington post" tonight describing what could have been a fundraiser, at least with the authority of donald trump, jr., and eric trump. perhaps the president-elect himself back with the panel. september 17 was supposed to be the day how donald trump was going to tell us how he was going to separate himself from his businesses. he either canceled or postponed that revelation, that news conference, and when you hear about this fundraising attempt by his kids, if, in fact, that is what it is, it still
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illustrates we don't have the answers about how he is going to separate himself. >> that's very true. i think we should start off by saying it is hypocritical meeting with ivanka trump for $60 million, getting money for the foundation. it's important to note that ivanka trump and eric trump are part of the administration. it seems as though donald jr. had a hand at picking the next secretary of interior. that being said, there is a difference between getting this money for charity and getting the money to line the president-elect's pockets. that's the bigger question here. trump tweeted that it's a very simple matter, though his staff said it's very complicated, and that's what the problem is. when he becomes president of the united states, there is a hotel literally half a mile down the street from the white house. at that hotel, as you mentioned before, there are countries getting rooms and holding banquets there because they know that's the right thing to do to
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have that trump name on what they're doing. a lot of people will argue that is in violation of the clause just as soon as he becomes the president of the united states. >> i do think there is a missing piece to the formula, though, when we talk about, let's say, the coffee with ivanka which didn't happen. that's money that would have gone to st. jude. the missing component that hillary clinton had that is notably absent here is the government money, getting the money for the uranium. >> this is the president of the united states, for god's sake. >> if you get access to ivanka trump who we believe is going to perhaps have an office in the white house and be working on issues of state, that's access to the government right there. >> and a tangible favor. for instance, in the case of hillary clinton, that was never paid by the advisory board. >> that was the quid pro quo.
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>> the timing did not work. >> matt louis, the appearance of impropriety, the faintest whip, that is what it should be. >> right, but the business side of it is what bothers me the most because that is about using the power of government and access to lives. >> do you have any hint about what he'll do? >> no. we need him. if you like donald trump and you're rooting for donald trump, he needs to fix this for his own good zchl good. >> i agree. people will ultimately bring it down if he doesn't do anything about it. >> we'll be right back.
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. that does it for us. "cnn tonight with don lemon" starts now. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. breaking news, a spectacular explosion at a fireworks market in mexico. the death toll is rising. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. in germany the manhunt is on for the berlin christmas market attacker. the german investigators lose valuable time in tracking down whoever is responsible. one man initially detained released for lack of evidence. and stung nning new video o

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